CrowBiz

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Old Things, Corny Things, Good Things: Part 3: Canned Bread

Posted by crowbiz on May 26, 2009

B&M Canned BreadYes, that reads canned bread, also known as brown bread.  How many people have even heard of it?  Have you ever eaten it?  If so, why?  How did this get on my list?  This one I can blame on my kids.

One of my many parental failings is a propensity for allowing my boys to watch hair-raising amounts of SpongeBob SquarePants.  There, I’ve said it.  It’s not easy to admit publicly, and neither is that I find SB SP inordinately hilarious.  If you’re a fan (don’t even pretend you’re not), you know the characters and their idiosyncrasies.  My favorite character is Squidward Tentacles, probably because I identify most closely with him both physically and psychologically.Squidward  Squidward is the centerpiece of my favorite episodes, including the one in which, fed up with SpongeBob’s antics, he moves to an all-squid, gated community.  There, he is free to pursue his life’s joys:  riding his squeaky bicycle, joining an interpretive dance class, playing in a clarinet band, and buying canned bread.  (There is a moral here.  Ultimately, all the predictability and like-minded squids get to be a drag on poor Squidman, and he finally cracks, going berserk with a leaf blower and wreaking havoc through the squid community a la SpongeBob.)

Before I had ever seen this episode, I overheard my boys mention “canned bread” and wondered hard how in the world they’d ever heard of it.  Evidently, it shows up in SpongeBob somewhat regularly.  Imagine their surprise when I told them that canned bread is not just a twisted cartoon comestible, but a real thing you can buy and actually eat!  So off we went in search of it.  It wasn’t easy, but we unearthed it in Wegman’s.  They thrilled as I unloaded it, rippled with machine indentations, out of its can shell and cut into it.

An earnest product, canned bread comes out can-shaped, much like canned jellied cranberry.  It’s dark brown.  It’s flecked with…something.  It’s vaguely sweet.  It’s dense.  It might be the Spam of breads, but like a lot of things, when you think too much about it, you ruin it for everyone. When I was a kid, there were rare appearances of canned bread which we ate with a thin layer of cream cheese or just butter.  Afterward, someone would always say, “Who eats this stuff?”, apparently forgetting that we just had.  Anyway, my boys dug it with a little butter and amazingly, the whole “loaf” eventually got polished off.  If I were some kind of journalist, I’d have looked up the ingredients and provenance of canned bread, but this is the internet age, so you can do it yourself.  What I do know is that it hails from New England and has fittingly unfancy, Puritan qualities about it – plain, dark, heavy, not exactly sweet, and rejecting of anything but the missionary position.  Thou must harken yon blog and try some.

For four of the last five years, we have vacationed on the Maine coast, and necessarily drive through the small slice of New Hampshire between Massachusetts and Maine.  Just next to the highway is ground zero for our brand of (and best known) canned bread – the B & M Factory!   It’s an exciting moment when I spot it, since we’re usually about eight or nine hours into the grueling road trip, and I call out to alert the boys.  With eyes widened and lips rounded into silent “whoa”s, we gaze upon it as the pious view Lourdes, craning our necks until we’re too far past it.  Mr. Crow, not sharing our enthusiasm for canned bread nor Squidward, keeps his eyes and attention on the upcoming toll plaza.

It’s cheap enough, so go get yourself some canned bread.  If you don’t care for it, its consistency makes it easy to cut into amusing shapes, so you’re likely to have greater success moving it among the kiddie crowd.  Just don’t explain too much.

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3 Responses to “Old Things, Corny Things, Good Things: Part 3: Canned Bread”

  1. JD said

    Sounds like it would be good between three scoops of Breyer’s Vanilla and a steaming topping of Indian Pudding.

    • crowbiz said

      Heavens, no – that’s far too extravagant. I think canned bread was developed as a vehicle for salt cod.

  2. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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